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Six MPs claimed a total of less than £150 in 2012/13 - 6,000 times lower than the £880,000 claimed for motoring

The Mail on Sunday has today taken aim at “freewheeling, freeloading” MPs who claim 20 pence a mile when riding their bikes on official business. But road.cc has found that in 2012/13, just six MPs made claims for travelling by bike, totalling less than £150 – compared to almost 40,000 claims for motoring expenses, amounting to nearly £900,000.

According to the Mail on Sunday, MPs are “at the centre of a new expenses row,” even though the politicians are perfectly entitled to claim the allowance, which is in line with HMRC rules and reflect wear and tear and the cost of maintaining a bike such as having it serviced.

Among the MPs to have attracted its ire are transport minister, Robert Goodwill, and shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh.

Based on figures obtained from the Independent Parliament Standards Authority (IPSA), the Mail on Sunday identified Hugh Bayley, the Labour MP for York Central, as having claimed the highest sums over the past four years - £205 in total.

That should, however, be put into the context of the £98.1 million in total expenses claimed by MPs in 2012/13 alone.

Much of that aggregate figure relates to office and staffing costs, but amounts reimbursed for motoring mileage dwarf those for cycling.

Our research found £146.60 was claimed by six MPs for cycling either by themselves or their staff in 2012/13, with 79 separate claims submitted.

In contrast, there were nearly 40,000 separate claims by MPs for use of their own car personally or by their staff, as well as for parking. The total? More than £880,000.

In the case of Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith, we discovered that the amount he claimed last year for cycling was £30.60, compared to motoring expenses of £2,469.

The largest amount claimed for a single cycling trip during the year was £4.56 by Leicester East MP, Liz Kendall.

Mr Goodwill, who made just one cycling-related claim last year, told the Mail on Sunday: “I just put in a few claims to demonstrate that I use my bicycle for work. I actually made ten journeys last Thursday for votes between the Department for Transport offices and Parliament and I didn’t claim for those.”

The amount he claimed for that trip in 2012/13? 80 pence.

Ms Creagh made two claims during the same year, for a total of £1.80. She declined to speak to the newspaper.

The suggestion from the Mail on Sunday seems to be that the MPs claiming expenses are somehow on the fiddle, although given the amounts involved some might wonder whether the return justifies the effort.

And while Liam Fox’s claim of 3 pence in motoring mileage for a 100-metre trip attracted derision last year, claims for motoring expenses don’t seem to be attracting quite the same scrutiny, despite the amount of money involved being 6,000 times higher.

Mr Bayley explained to the Mail on Sunday why he claimed. “I use it to maintain my bicycles and I’ve spent a lot more than £200,” he said.

“I have two bicycles, one in my constituency and the other in London. It costs about £60 a year to put each through an annual maintenance check.”

One MP, the Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb who represents North Norfolk, claimed a total of £12.50 for bicycle use over the last four years, but told the Mail on Sunday he no longer did so.

“I concluded, I’ve got a bike, it’s not costing me anything so I just don’t claim any more,” he explained.

“I certainly think we should be encouraging MPs to use the cheapest mode of transport but I have myself chosen to do it without claiming now.”

Last December, former cycling minister Norman Baker, now at the Home Office, tried to decline the use of a ministerial car, saying he would rather use a “ministerial bicycle.”But civil servants told him it would be an “unacceptable burden” on the taxpayer, despite the department spending £136,000 a year on ministerial cars.

Before the 2010 General Election, then leader of the opposition David Cameron pledged to reduce the bill for ministerial cars by £6 million if he became prime minister.

Mr Goodwill, who was shadow transport minister at the time, said: “Unless they have a good reason – such as carrying lots of ministerial boxes or security – we will expect Tory Ministers to consider using bicycles to get around Westminster and Whitehall.

“Ministers can always put their paperwork in a backpack.”

 

Note: We looked at data from IPSA for 2012/13 relating to expenses claimed for use of own car or bicycle by MPs or their staff, as well as data for car parking. Some expenses related to cycling or motoring may fall under other headings, but those are the main ones.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

42 comments

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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Yeah I claim 20p per mile costs for tax purposes, because I'm allowed to, and I'm a bike mechanic so it doesn't cost me that much. What's wrong with that? I could be claiming 45p and driving a car.

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paulrbarnard [182 posts] 1 year ago
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Good on Liz Kendall that was 22.8 mile trip!

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Jonathing [67 posts] 1 year ago
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Twenty pence a mile, that's outrageous. I only used to get sixpence a mile while I was at university.

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AndrewRH [56 posts] 1 year ago
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The "Bicycling Baronet" Sir George Young MP (chief whip) claimed £0 for cycling and thousands for car use.

I queried him on this as he is my MP - he replied almost instantly to say "I do cycle, but don’t claim"

I followed up to ask why he doesn't claim but a reply to that hasn't come yet.

SGY expenses: 2013/2014

Travel
Own Vehicle Car £1,767.60
Parking £380.00
Public Tr AIR £1,099.70
Public Tr RAIL - RTN £49.10
Public Tr RAIL - SGL £636.90
Public Tr RAIL MP Staff - RTN £31.00
Total £3,964.30
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parksey [343 posts] 1 year ago
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Founder of FairFuel UK Campaign Howard Cox wrote:

‘That’s astonishing that MPs are claiming mileage for cycling. That is profiteering. This is absolutely scandalous.’

This comment in the article just beggars belief! I just fail to see the scandal in claiming a legitimate mileage allowance to cover wear and tear to a bicycle, not least when the total claimed was only £150!

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 1 year ago
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Knowing the state of the roads thoughout the UK, I'd be claiming my 20p for each and EVERY mile. Plus £50 twice a year for servicing and repairs...

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SteppenHerring [324 posts] 1 year ago
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Cake isn't free. Just saying.

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A V Lowe [570 posts] 1 year ago
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Many councils, and other institutions are moving away from paying staff for personal car mileage, and becoming corporate 'car club' members. Staff who can use cars on Council business simply book the trip and swipe their staff i/d card over the access panel on the car screen and drive the car. Mileage and use is fully accounted for by the car club, who supply the cars for a fully inclusive price, so that there is no additional cost for the staff member to claim back.

Unlike a pool car fleet, the location, type, and number of cars is flexible, so for a long distance trip the employer can deliver a duty of care and have the major mileage travelled by rail - safer, often faster, and with the facility to work en route, and reducing the increased risk of crashes that comes with high mileage car use.

My last car hire had an all-in cost of under 25p/mile, and councils who have switched to this system report massive savings - typically at least 30% on the mileage expenses budget. The cars are also kept in good order by the car club, and this clears another issue with use of private cars on council business.

So why all this about cars? Well bikes are now available in the same way, so that for work related cycling, the council provides staff with access to a local bike hire/bike share scheme, ideally one with a National link-up, and staff simply grab a bike and go. No more disputed mileage payments for bike or car, you simply collect a bike or car, use it and then return it.

For private use the same bikes and cars can be available as a staff benefit, simply pay as you go driving and cycling, which is done on a separate account, thus eliminating any tax penalty for getting the benefit in kind (aside from the minimal 'value' of being signed up as a member of the car share/bike share scheme, which can be argued for as de minimis).

With a core user base the viability of a cycle share/cycle hire scheme becomes an achievable prospect.

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Les Ed [66 posts] 1 year ago
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Don't see any scandal in this I'd rather they claim for bike use than a car. It shows a lack of understanding of regular cycling by the paper and reflects how the public treat their bikes buy one ride it a couple of times then leave it in the shed at the first sign of rain.

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Bez [587 posts] 1 year ago
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Mail in unjustified outrage shocker.

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stumps [3188 posts] 1 year ago
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Why should they be allowed to claim for anything ? I expect the vast majority of people aren't allowed to claim for anything in their jobs. But i digress.

The mail seems to be inundated with reporters at the top of their field providing the public with a detailed unbiased account of ongoing stoires throughout the uk and the world  24 24 24 24

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forlodge1 [25 posts] 1 year ago
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Do we have any comment from The Daily Fail as to how much their reporter(s) claimed in expenses to write this drivel?

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Chuck [521 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:

Why should they be allowed to claim for anything ? I expect the vast majority of people aren't allowed to claim for anything in their jobs. But i digress.

I claim expenses when I travel for work. I don't see why I shouldn't, and so I don't see why MPs shouldn't either (within reason of course).
Bikes have wear and tear same as cars, so why not?

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Scoob_84 [372 posts] 1 year ago
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WOW @ the articles comment section

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Peowpeowpeowlasers [294 posts] 1 year ago
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Personally I think we should pay people to cycle to work. The opposite of charging them to drive, if you like.

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northstar [1108 posts] 1 year ago
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Toilet paper in non-story shocker.

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brooksby [743 posts] 1 year ago
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I agree with the other posters. What is the problem here, and why is it news? If someone can claim back expenses for wear'n'tear on their car when they use their own car for business reasons, then why can't someone claim back expenses for wear'n'tear on their bike if they ride that for business?

The real scandal is that bikes got worn down by modern British urban streets far quicker than cars - perhaps we should be able to claim more for cycling for work, rather than less  39

I think the essential problem here is that the Mail cannot see that a bicycle is a valid mode of transport, or that it is anything other than a toy... hence their indignation. They cannot imagine that it wears down and gets repaired (just like a car), and in their mind, it's like someone claiming expenses for wear'n'tear on a teddy bear.

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:

Why should they be allowed to claim for anything ? I expect the vast majority of people aren't allowed to claim for anything in their jobs. But i digress.

Sorry Stumps, I disagree on this. If an employee needs to visit other premises (that are not classified as their base location), then they are entitled to claim mileage in the same way. As much as the MP expenses thing does appear to be just a massive bonus scheme, the mileage amounts are the HMRC values.

That said, I'm self-employed and could claim for my 7-mile-each-way run to the office, but I don't bother when on the bike, or (rarely) in the car. Basically it's a fair bit of admin for small beans in return.

As for the mail, this story is like arguing about the formation of deck chairs on the deck of the titanic...

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RedfishUK [114 posts] 1 year ago
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I would have thought the bigger "scandal" was the fact that some employers pay a premium mileage allowance for employees with larger engines
As reported here on 28/02 Leeds pay an additional £420K to employees by means of a 65p per mile allowance rather than a the HMRC standard 40p

To me this appears to be a tax free backdoor subsidy for employees who do a bit of travelling and feel a larger vehicle would massage their egos..no doubt kept in place as more management types benefit from the policy?

From this perspective paying someone 20p a mile to travel and the associated benefits for the employee and society seems a bargain

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allez neg [497 posts] 1 year ago
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I normally use asterisks, a spoonerism or a deliberate mis - spelling of the word but...

The Daily / Sunday Mail. What a bunch of cunts they are.

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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What a load of tosh.

Still I expect they have some pictures of Myleene Klass/Kelly Brook/whoever in their underwear/bikini by way of compensation for not being a newspaper.

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Brooess [84 posts] 1 year ago
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There's clearly no intention for this to be "news". It's just propaganda designed to increase hatred towards two of society's scapegoat groups - politicians and cyclists...

One thing you'll notice about all the anti-cycling propaganda is how none of it is supported by any facts (road tax, 2-abreast, helmets, hi-vis, riding in the gutter etc)

The Daily Mail knows exactly what it's doing when it publishes stories like this. Sadly, there seem to be enough people who're gullible enough to take it in...

Although seeing so many people commuting this morning and out riding in the sunshine yesterday, I think they've backed the losing horse on this one...

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David Portland [83 posts] 1 year ago
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notfastenough wrote:

That said, I'm self-employed and could claim for my 7-mile-each-way run to the office, but I don't bother when on the bike, or (rarely) in the car. Basically it's a fair bit of admin for small beans in return.

Is this your own office or someone else's (a client's) office? If it's your own I'm pretty sure you can't claim anything. Not that you do, anyway, of course, which makes the point somewhat moot  26

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aslongasicycle [380 posts] 1 year ago
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Meanwhile, flowers bloom, people chat and cats meow.

The DM says its all death and despair.

And the things to get really angry about get ignored.

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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David Portland wrote:
notfastenough wrote:

That said, I'm self-employed and could claim for my 7-mile-each-way run to the office, but I don't bother when on the bike, or (rarely) in the car. Basically it's a fair bit of admin for small beans in return.

Is this your own office or someone else's (a client's) office? If it's your own I'm pretty sure you can't claim anything. Not that you do, anyway, of course, which makes the point somewhat moot  26

It's a client's office, but a moot point as you say.

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vbvb [526 posts] 1 year ago
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It's the Mail on Sunday / Daily Mail. Poisonous idiocy. That's what they do. No point engaging with that lot.

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Simmo72 [584 posts] 1 year ago
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Moats don't fill themselves, we've got to take what we can these days.

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HKCambridge [216 posts] 1 year ago
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RedfishUK wrote:

As reported here on 28/02 Leeds pay an additional £420K to employees by means of a 65p per mile allowance rather than a the HMRC standard 40p

To me this appears to be a tax free backdoor subsidy for employees who do a bit of travelling and feel a larger vehicle would massage their egos..no doubt kept in place as more management types benefit from the policy?

It's not tax-free, or at least if it is it means someone is breaking the law! The excess over the HMRC rates is taxable. The approved rate for car mileage is 45p/mile, so that means 20p per mile should be taxed.

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joemmo [1146 posts] 1 year ago
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just in the interest of political balance the Mirror also carried this story.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mps-claim-expenses-cycling-work-324...

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Simmo72 [584 posts] 1 year ago
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Ok folks, using my professional analysis skills I have carried out a detailed study of the 20p per mile allowance.

I can conclude beyond doubt that it is wholly appropriate.......providing the following assumptions are applied.

An MP is riding a bike worth at least £2500
-Of course they are, they have money to burn, most are known to buy a colnago c59 and use it for only a week before giving it away to some street urchin.

An MP is wearing top end rapha kit
-Of course, are you implying an MP would be seen in Aldi kit? Special edition pin stripe kit with triple enforced gusset is the only way.

An MP is unable to repair their own bike and must seek professional services.
-Of course, they are fucking useless at everything else, why would this not extend to simple bike maintenance.

An MP needs to replace brakes and tyres on a regular basis.
-of Course, they are all overweight rim bending chunksters who burn through brake blocks, wheels and vittoria tubs like they are going out of fashion

An MP is a finely tuned machine that requires optimum nutrition intake.
-Of course, swan and pheasant power bars don't grow on trees.

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